When Should I Winterize My Irrigation System?

Sprinkler system valve box

(Originally Published in October 2018) Labor Day has come and gone, the kids are back in school, and the holidays are fast approaching. With all the things going on in our lives, it’s sometimes easy to forget the small things. Like changing the batteries in the smoke detectors, replacing your furnace filters, or checking out the snow blower before that first big snowfall. Old Man Winter is coming and The Farmer’s Almanac promises it’s going to be brutal here in Central Indiana. The one “small thing” we’d encourage you not to forget is winterizing your irrigation system. As a certified backflow testing company, we get calls every Spring from people looking to get their backflows repaired or replaced due to it freezing over the Winter. If that’s not reason enough to winterize your irrigation system, here are other reasons why you should set reminders:

Frigid temperatures can do serious damage, which often lead to costly repairs

Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And when it freezes, it expands. This expansion inside your irrigation system or backflow device can cause parts to break or burst. This will lead to expensive repairs next watering season. The only way to ensure your irrigation system is in working order for next startup next Spring is to have your system properly drained and blown out. The results of your irrigation system freezing could be very costly from possible line replacement, to head replacement, to an expensive backflow replacement. Depleting the bank account because the irrigation system wasn’t properly drained is simply not worth the headache.

Improper Winterizations/Freeze-ups could Void Warranties or Service Plans

You have a 50/50 chance that your system won’t freeze during those frigid months if you don’t winterize it. But if I was a gambler, this would be the one thing that I wouldn’t want to gamble on. It is always recommended that you have your irrigation system properly winterized. Don’t rely on gravity or the system to properly drain just by opening up the valves. Most irrigation companies/backflow maintenance companies will void their labor and parts warranties or service plans on irrigation systems or backflow devices that homeowners have failed to properly winterize or have the backflow taken out during the Winter months.

Proper Winterization of System

Shut off water and drain down pipes.

During this step, make sure that all of the drains are functioning correctly for proper drainage.

Blow out pipe system

This should be done by a professional. If proper steps aren’t taken when it comes to blowing out the system, it could lead to other repairs down the road. Just blasting a ton of air with your compressor could cause internal damage to key components inside the system or Backflow Preventer.

Check the Backflow Preventer

Most often when you blow out the system, the backflow device is also blown out and left in place during the winter months.  Now is the time to schedule the winterization of your irrigation system, before Mother Nature decides to drop the temps. October is the best time to drain and blow out your system, since the temperatures don’t fall below freezing yet. The cost of preventive maintenance far outweighs the cost and headaches of repairs or replacing in the Spring.

If you have any questions or want to schedule your preventive maintenance and testing of the Backflow Preventer, or if you need more information on who to talk to on properly winterizing your irrigation system, give us a call at (317) 885-8983. We will be happy to put you on our schedule for system closing 2020.

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